Cuts to front-line staff is not the solution to balancing the budget and it is not what Albertans voted for
On Friday morning, Albertans learned that 500 front-line Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses will lose their jobs over the next three years. The United Nurses of Alberta estimate this loss of staff will equate to more than a million fewer hours of care for patients.
“In an already overstretched system, this attempt to save money by eliminating front-line staff can only be seen as nonsensical,” stated Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare.
As part of his campaign promises to Alberta, now-Premier Jason Kenney made a “Public Health Guarantee,” in which he announced that his government would undertake a review of Alberta Health Services to seek out administrative “waste,” and promised “to reallocate any savings found to the front lines.” Today, we see that the Premier has broken his promise. “Albertans took note of that promise and felt assured that our public health care would not see cuts. It is now clear that Kenney's 'guarantee' was worth no more than the corrugated board it was written on,” states Azocar
Massive cuts in the name of austerity will do nothing to balance the budget, but will put the health and well-being of countless patients at risk. We have seen the impacts that systematically undervaluing our critical front-line health care staff has on our health care system. Albertans remember the layoffs of 5,000 RNs and RPNs in the 1990s under the Klein government – our health care system still hasn’t recovered from those loses.
“We lost an entire generation of nurses and now we are seeing a government whose intent is to go in the same direction,” says Azocar. "Health care needs sustainable funding and secure staffing, regardless of the economic situation. People do not stop needing health care because the economy is on a downturn."
Albertans also learned about the plan to potentially contract out essential services such as home care, including nursing, palliative and pediatric. “Contracting out simply translates into privatization which will see more costs passed down to Albertans and their families,” says Azocar.
Friends of Medicare is calling on the Minister of Health and Alberta Health Services to re-
examine the impact that this planned reduction to front-line services will truly have on our health care system and the patients who rely on it. Real leaders learn from the past so as not to repeat history.
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